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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Review

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ASUS, MSI, EVGA GTX 950 Closer Look:

Last but certainly not least is MSI's rendition of the GTX 950. MSI's messaging is still centered around the dragon motif against a blood red background. The front panel shows the model of the card and notes that this is a factory overclocked video card for use in a PCIe 3.0 equipped motherboard. The back side digs into the impressive feature set that takes features from the high end enthusiast line and brings them down to the entry points. Things such as the use of 100mm Torx fans, SU Pipe, and Zero Frozr technology are downright good on an $170 card. Inside is a black box that houses the accessory bundle and underneath is the GTX 950 Gaming 2G. Much like the rest of the cards I am looking at today, the bundle is on the slim side, but really a bunch of additional hardware isn't needed to get the card installed.

 

 

 

If I didn't know better, I would think I was looking at the GTX 980 Gaming from the front. MSI has built out its product stack with the same features from the top to the bottom of the stack. From the Military Class V build philosophy to the Twin Frozr cooling solution that is equipped to handle the big as well as small cards. A pair of 100mm Torx propeller blade fans are equipped to use Zero Frozr technology to deliver a no noise cooling solution under idle and no load situations. The large Super SU Pipe heat pipes are visible above this card and do an excellent job of managing the thermals. The back side of the PCB, much like the other two cards I am looking at, have a pair of GDDR5 modules on the back of the custom PCB. A pair of Super Caps smooth the power load to the GM 206 core on this factory overclocked card. WIth the massive cooling solution, this is a two slot card built for use in a 16x PCIe 3.0 slot. From above and below you get a feel for how the heat pipes are arranged. Viewed from the side of the case, the MSI logo lights up to show the crowd what hardware you are running.

 

 

 

MSI has chosen to use the default connectivity options of three DisplayPort 1.2 ports, one HDMI 2.0 port, and a single Dual-Link DVI connection for use with up to four displays at a time. Venting hot air through the mounting bracket should not prove to be an issue, although the cutouts are less aggressive than those seen on the EVGA SSC card. The back end of the card is not that interesting, but you can see how far over the PCB the Twin Forzr V cooling solution hangs. The fans attach to the PCB at the bottom rear of the all black PCB.

 

 

Power is supplied to the MSI GTX 950 Gaming 2G by way of a 6-pin PCIe power connection for a total of 150 watts inbound into the card. A robust power circuit easily handles the 90 watt load from this card. A 350 watt, yes, you read that right, a 350 watt power supply is the basic recommended power supply for all GTX 950 video cards. That low number speaks to the power consumption of Maxwell's efficient architecture, but also opens up a whole world of PC gamers that can upgrade to a GTX 950 with their pre-built computer. SLI is supported up to a two card configuration on motherboards that support the technology. A bridge connection will be needed to run two of these GTX 950 Gaming 2G cards at a time, along with a higher rated power supply.

 

 

MSI's Twin Frozr cooling solution comes off easily to reveal the PCB and some of the Miltiary class components, including Super Ferrite chokes that eliminate any coil whine from the card's power system. It looks like a four phase power system is used on this card. The second half of the 2GB frame buffer is visible on this view of the PCB. The right hand side of the PCB looks vacant.

 

MSI uses its proprietary Twin Frozr V cooling solution on the GTX950 Gaming In addition to the Torx fans, Zero Frozr tech, and visuals. MSI uses a Super Pipe design equipped with a pair of direct contact heat pipes machined flat that run up and over to the fin array. While the fin array looks incredibly slim, MSI does this by design to reduce the foot print and have added an additional means with which to keep airflow in the heat sink longer. If you look closely you will see a series of diagonal slats that divert air as it passes through the fin array. This diversion of the air improves the cooling capacity by allowing the airflow to absorb more of the thermal load before exiting the assembly.

 

 

Not to be left out of the festivities, MSI built this card around NVIDIA's highly efficient 28nm GM 206 Maxwell core. This modular core houses 2.94 billion transistors packed into a pair of Graphics Processing Clusters, six Streaming Multi Processors, 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, and 32 ROPs. A total of 2GB of GDDR5 memory from Samsung runs through a 128-bit (2x64-bit) bus delivering an effective memory clock speed of 6.6Gbps. Maxwell's efficient memory architecture allows just 2GB of GDDR5 to outperform older Kepler cards using the same memory capacity. The base core clock speed for MSI's factory overclocked entry, the GTX 950 Gaming 2G, is the lowest of the group at 1127MHz with a GPU Boost clock speed of 1317MHz. Depending on the game you are playing, GPU Boost 2.0 clock speeds can increase well into the 1400MHz range with nothing to be done but enjoy the performance.

 

 

Now that I have had a quick look at each card, all that is left is to take a long look at the performance delivered for your dollars spent.




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